Let me tell you a secret. If you want to taste the best Negrense cuisine, don’t go to the restaurants in Bacolod. Just get yourself invited to lunch at a Negrense home and you’ll surely be served with the best-kept family recipes. Of course, it’s a different story if the best-kept family recipes are served at a Bacolod restaurant. Such is the case with Wamba’s Bistro which serves home-cooked Spanish inspired cuisine handed down from the family matriarch.
Fini Alonso and siblings opened Wamba’s Bistro last September 2012 in celebration of their mom Lily’s 90th birthday and to continue the culinary traditions they were brought up with. The Alonso matriarch is truly admirable not only for her culinary skills but more so for raising 12 children. I have an 8-month old baby and I don’t even cook that often but I feel my hands are full most of the time. There must be helpers around but still, 12 children are still 12 children. Until now every Sunday is still a special family day for the Alonsos and whoever is absent will not only miss the family feast but will also have some explaining to do.
According to Fini, the food in their menu at Wamba’s is the food they enjoy every Sunday so they want to keep everything simple. They don’t want Wamba’s to be known as a Spanish restaurant but a restaurant that serves delicious home-style “tisoy” cuisine. As Fini recounted, their mom Lily usually cooks everything from scratch so as much as possible they want their food home-cooked. Most of the food they served are still prepared at her home and assembled and cooked at Wamba’s upon order.
So if you’re ready for a delicious read, below is my take on Wamba’s food.
For appetizers we tried the Chorizo Sampler (P285) which consists morcillas (blood sausage), butifarras and the Chorizo de Lily. I especially like the morcillas and if you like dinuguan, you’re going to like it too. The butifarras and chorizo de Lily are not the usual moist and sweet Ilonggo chorizo but they’re very flavorful.
The Bacalao Fritters is salted codfish balls, deep fried and topped with creamy aioli sauce. The fish balls are crispy on the outside but soft and juicy inside. Kids would love them.
Habichuelas (P89) is a slow cooked white beans which is a comfort food for most Negrense families with Spanish lineage. Wamba’s habichuelas was topped with the family matriarch’s chorizo. I love its thick consistency and the beans softened from slow cooking. It’s a hearty soup which I would love to eat on a cold and rainy day.
The Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup (P120) is also another delicious soup from Wamba’s which has their home-made corned beef.
For something healthy, I recommend Wamba’s salads. Wamba’s salad servings are generous and can be shared by two.
The Asian Chicken Salad (P149) is grilled chicken with singkamas, cashew, carrots, lettuce and sesame dressing. This salad is very refreshing with the whole cashews lending their nutty flavor to it.
The Smoked Bangus and Orange Salad (P165) has salad greens topped with smoked bangus, fresh orange slices, olives in orange mustard dressing. It has a pleasant mix of smoky, sweet and spicy flavors.
Pasta with a Twist
For pasta we had Wamba’s Pesto (P165) and Smoked Salmon (P175). Wamba’s Pesto has a twist, they topped it with chorizo pudpud. I especially liked the Smoke Salmon Pasta with lemon cream because of its smoky, tangy taste. Before you eat, don’t forget to squeeze the sliced lemon to balance the richness of the cream sauce.
Mouthwatering Main Dishes
I highly recommend Wamba’s Pan Fired Salon in Honey Sauce (P199/100g). It was seared just right, the flesh still flaky and juicy.
Filleto de Luis (P189) is a recipe of Luis Jalandoni. It is made of thin slices of tenderloin beef in garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar sauce.
Because of the time it takes to prepare Paella, Wamba’s Paella (P180) is served only every Sunday.
The Paella is served in small cazuela which can actually be shared by two if ordered with other food but it’s still more than enough to satisfy one’s appetite if ordered alone. Wamba’s paella is quite unique since it has four types f chorizos which make it very flavorful.
The Barbecued Ribs (P185) was almost snubbed by us because its southern style sauce was a little darker than the regular barbecue sauce. We thought it was a little burned but it actually wasn’t. What I liked about the Barbecued Ribs was it wasn’t too sweet and the meat was very tender.
One of Wamba’s bestseller was its Corned Beef Steak (P285/150g) and we agree with their customers. The meat was very tender and very flavorful. Before you try the other food in the menu, I highly recommend you try first their Corned Beef Steak.
As of now Wamba’s only have three choices for desserts in their menu and if you don’t have problems with your sugar level, you must try all three. Promise, you won’t regret it.
Tart Apple Cobbler A La Mode (85) green apples with crumb topping served with vanilla cream was the creation of Fini’s daughter. The flavors is a good mix of sweet and sour and has a nice crumbly texture.
Merengue Con Natilla (P70) was Lily’s specialty made of soft meringue and milk custard topped with cinnamon. This is really delicious and it’s not too sweet.
Arroz Con Leche (P70) rice and fresh milk pudding topped with cinnamon. This is a very simple dessert yet it tastes very good and it’s also not too sweet.
Wamba’s Bistro is a great place to enjoy good food with family and friends. They are open daily, from 11:00am-3:00pm for lunch, and 6:00pm to 11:00pm for dinner. They have an air-conditioned area that can seat up to 30 people and an open lounge for those who smoke. They can accommodate up to 50 persons for parties.
Wamba’s Bistro is located at The Azotea Bldg., Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City near the entrance of the Sta. Clara Subdivision. They can be contacted at Tel. No. (034) 441-2095. You visit their Facebook Page for more info.
Below is a video clip of the interior of Wamba’s Bistro.
Wamba's Bistro: Home-Cooked Spanish Inspired Cuisine
by Glady Reyes